When was the last time you have had your travel trailer or fifth wheel RV frame, suspension, axles or brakes looked at? Not checking your RV towable frame, suspension or axles and doing the required maintenance could not only ruin your trip, but it could ruin the lives behind you.
Keeping up with your RV preventive maintenance is the best solution to keeping the chassis parts of your coach from failing.
If your planning to haul your unit down the highway this is your safety reminder! Have your frame & suspension inspected, make sure your doing your brake inspection and wheel bearing maintenance as recommended by the axle manufacturer.
How Common Are RV Accidents?
Reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tell us that there are around 76,000 RV accidents every year.
RV Towable Suspension Basics
Towable Suspension is one of the most often overlook parts of a travel trailer or fifth wheel until you run into a problem. Towable suspension are designed to absorbs shock from the road, keeps your trailer level, gives you a smooth ride, and reduces wear and tear on your tires, frame and interior of your unit. When your suspension becomes worn down, it is not so easy to feel the difference in ride quality when towing it down the road. After all your not able to travel inside seeing everything that is shacking, bouncing and moving around.
There are 7 main components that you should know about your suspension. These components depends on the number of axles on your unit. (single axle, dual axle, or triple axle). In most cases these area visible and easy to inspect prior to traveling.
Breakdown sheet examples.
Axles can bend for a number of reason and that is usually due to overload. This can be due to excessive load or pulling the trailer out of level which can overload the axles.
Axles can get bent from some surprisingly minor occurrences. Simply hitting a curb can cause a bend in the axles some vehicles whereas minor vehicle collisions are more frequently the cause. If your trailer or axles sustained damage during an accident, or if you hit something in the road, or hit a curb, be sure to always crawl under your trailer and assess any potential damage.
The last thing we want is you to risk your life or others behind you on the road. So if you see that your tires are getting worn, wearing abnormally, please contact your local dealer or repair shop immediately.
The main components of towable suspension are:
- Leaf springs
- Shackle links
- Shackle bolts and bushings
- U-Bolts/U-bolt tie plates
- Spring pads
- Axles beams
Frame Hanger Problems
The leaf spring hanger helps the leaf spring to stay connected to the frame of the unit. These hangers can be improperly welded, become rusted or develop cracks or even brake loose from the frame. Many manufacture don’t reinforce the hangers or I beams, this also leads to most of the hanger failures.
Leaf Springs Problems
Leaf springs give your travel trailer much-needed cushioning against bumps and vibrations, but they are not one-size-fits-all. Different vehicles call for different leaf spring types and sizes.
Leaf springs can become broken, cracked or weak, depending in the roads, manufacture build and added weight this can all contribute to spring failures.
New Unit Suspension Mistakes
Sometimes we see some strange things! Like wrong size springs on brand new 2020 Grand Design Reflection, on this unit we found a four leaf on front axle and a five leaf on the rear axle.
Equalizer bars are used on tandem and triple axle trailer suspensions. Trailer equalizers rock to absorb road shock and equalize load to create a smooth ride. Worn equalizers can cause noise, axle misalignment, and suspension walk.
Different examples of equalizers.
Equalizers can become broken, cracked or worn, if you have any of these on your unit, just note that you are driving around on 1950 technology. There are so many enhanced products out there to help improve the ride.
Shackle Links, Bolts and Bushings Problems
Shackle links, also called shackle straps, connect suspension springs and axle hangers. Because leaf springs can’t take on all the work, they rely on shackles to flex and adequately run the suspension system. Shackle bolts are used to secure your trailer’s leaf springs. Bushing are used in leaf springs and equalizers to provide some shock absorbing cushion to help make the ride smoother.
The presence of frame cracks in a towable RV is a serious concern that requires immediate attention. Frame cracks can compromise the structural integrity of the RV, potentially leading to safety hazards and further damage.
U-Bolts/U-Bolt Tie Plates Problems
A drive axle U-Bolt is used to attach the axle to the frame of the vehicle via the leaf spring. U-bolt can rust and brake due to other suspension issues and holds every together.
Spring Pads and Axles
Trailer axle spring pads or perches welded to axle tube for a leaf spring to mounts to attached axles ensure the wheels align correctly and hold up the vehicle’s weight. The size, type or number of axles often determine how much weight the trailer can handle and the vehicle’s load capacity.
Axle Flip Examples
Flipping the axles on a travel trailer or fifth wheel will get better ground clearance, eliminate scraping and protect those items underneath the trailer. See axle manufactures for details.